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By Kelly Harshberger
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 24, 1997

World-famous sculptor's work at UA art museum


Karen C. Tully
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Phylis Carnahan examines one of Rodin's sculptures in the exhibit at the UA Art Museum yesterday afternoon. The pieces are part of a traveling exhibit of 62 Rodin sculptures that includes a copy of "The Thinker."

Auguste Rodin's sculpture "The Thinker" is a world recognized icon.

And now it sits in the University of Arizona Museum of Art.

Or rather a model does.

While the actual "Thinker" rests in France, the mock-up is part of a traveling exhibition devoted to the world-famous French artist.

"We expressed an interest and they felt it was a good place for it," said Richard Schaffer, UAMA registrar.

The exhibition, which has been on the road for five years, has 62 sculptures of the 750-piece Iris and B. Gerald Cantor collection, one of the world's largest private collections. A mock-up of Rodin's famous piece, "The Thinker," is also on display.

"Mr. Cantor's dream was to bring Rodin to a wide audience," said Rachael Blackburn, director of the Cantor Foundation, a nonprofit group that runs three traveling Rodin shows as well as a loan program, where Cantor collection pieces can be loaned to museums nationwide.

"University museums are more special because there are more students," she added. "We are reaching a younger audience."

Schaffer also said that the exhibit was good for the UAMA itself, because it attracts people who normally would not go to the museum.

"It's great for the community, much of which don't even know we exist," Schaffer said. "This brings them in and hopefully they go upstairs and see what else we have to offer. It brings them back."

Blackburn said she was pleased with yesterday's reception, where visitors and art aficionados came and went through the afternoon.

"Rodin is an artist they've all heard of," Blackburn said. "They don't get to go to Paris and see his work that often and this is an opportunity to see it."

Blackburn said coordinating the exhibit required a lot of work.

She said the biggest chore is packing and unpacking the pieces, while moving the sculptures into place is one of the more difficult jobs.

"The largest one is around 2,500 pounds," Blackburn said.

"It's a big undertaking."

Exhibit set up times usually run about six working days, Schaffer said.

Some exhibit visitors were impressed with what they saw.

"It looks really amazing. Rodin is a master," said Jen Peashock, who works at Old Town Artisans. "It's pretty unusual in Tucson to have a really powerful exhibit come to town and I didn't want to miss it."

Ruth Schaller of the UA medical school was also impressed with the exhibit.

"I have seen so many marvelous things here (at the museum)," Schaller said. "I think it's incredible that we have the opportunity to see this. It's a profound experience."

Eric Reid and Ari Sorrentino, both art freshmen, shared those views.

"It's Rodin, one of the finer sculptors. It doesn't matter where it's at as long as it's done well," Reid said. "I think it is well done."

Sorrentino agreed.

"There aren't many large museums in Tucson," he said. "I don't think there are very many people in Tucson who get to see great art. This is a good opportunity."

The Rodin exhibit, which is free, opened last Tuesday and will run through Jan. 27.

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